Watch: Freightliner preps enhancements for its M2, SD models

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Updated Sep 21, 2022

Freightliner's M2 debuted in 2002 as a replacement to the FL Series and the SD followed in 2014.

Next year both models will get enhancements as Freightliner rolls out its new Plus Series, including the M2 106 Plus, M2 112 Plus, 108SD Plus and 114SD Plus.

In the video above CCJ Chief Editor Jason Cannon gives a brief overview and drive impression of the renewed models, and gets expert details directly from Freightliner. 

Contents of this video

00:00 Freightliner Plus Series Intro

00:38 Features that haven’t changed

01:41 Exterior changes

02:21 Interior changes

07:34 Final thoughts

Video transcript

Jason Cannon
Hey, everybody. I'm CCJ Chief Editor Jason Cannon and behind me right here is Freightliner's new M2 106 Plus. The Plus series is Freightliner's reconfigured lineup of medium-duty vocational trucks that consists of the M2 models and the SD models. These trucks have mostly, from the inside out, been reinvented. You won't find a lot of changes on the outside. The changes that are there are rather subtle. Most of the significant updates happen inside. But before I give you some impressions from my day here with these models, I'm going to turn over some of the details right now to the Freightliner experts.

Greg Treinen
So one of the important things for our customers to know, one of the things we're communicating is the best just got better. So there's certain things that we haven't changed. A lot of the things that have made the M2 and SD product line so successful over the last couple of decades. So it's the visibility, right? The 2,500 square inch windshield, sloped hood. You guys will see as you're getting back into the M2, for those of you who haven't driven one in a long time, it's like driving a big pickup truck.

Thinking about the legendary maneuverability, right? The 55 degree wheel cut, which is critical for our P&D, for food and beverage applications. Steel reinforced aluminum cab, so cab durability, the Henrob rivets. Cab construction, the cab configurations we offer, right? So you get the day cab. We have this 26 inch extended cab. We have a 48 inch crew cab, which you'll see out on the track as well. Our frame rails clear back of cab, the routing and clipping that we updated a number of years ago. So while the Plus series represents a major change, there has been an evolution over time. So improving that routing clipping was a key part of that a few years ago.

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One of the first things folks will notice about the M2 Plus series is the updated grill. We've kind of taken a lot of styling cues from our Cascadia product line over the road and integrated that into this design here on the M2 Plus. We have a lot of customers out in the marketplace that will run a number of Cascadias for their over-the-road business. So box trucks for their last mile delivery business. And so really love having that commonality between the two product lines. We also updated the air intake cover as well. Again, to just give that little sense that this is an M2 Plus product.

Aaron Scates
We're in the cab of the 114SD Plus, this is the new interior. This one's got the rugged edition interior. This is our sort of hybrid interior between the pro series and the elite. So you'll notice there are some things like the leather wrap steering wheel from the elite package, but also you've got vinyl surfaces on the headliner and on the back wall too, so that makes it just easier to clean. We've got all new door panels, including new composite materials. We've moved the window switches, mirror controls and door locks up onto the door panel itself. And this is an IP67 rated switch control, so it's protected from dust and water intrusion. So if the window's open, you don't have to worry about that. But we've got this optional map pocket built into the door panel. That's contoured for your hand, that can hold a 300 pound weight.

So on a vehicle like this, where you've got higher ride height, larger tires, you're up off the ground, ingress and egress is greatly assisted by this. So this basically becomes a grab handle getting in and out. We also moved the speakers for the radio, for the audible notifications, for things like Sideguard Assist. We moved those from the dash down into the door panel. And when you drive this truck, you really notice the audio is a huge improvement from the current M2 SD models. That's kind of good for the door panel. We've got rubberized grips here. Door pulls also can act as a grab handle. Big change here on the steering column. So now we've got an infinitely adjustable steering column that also is telescopic. Not just for ingress and egress, you can get it out of the way, but regardless of your driving preference, you can really position it where you want it to be.

Prior models, there was very sort of a detented location. And so this really just gives you a lot of flexibility. Big news here with the new electrical architecture. We've got, of course, our instrument cluster here with the five inch display. You get things like diagnostics, warning messages, feedback on the safety system, controls, interlock feedback, those kind of things. And all of that can also be controlled using these buttons that are on the steering wheel. So you can cycle between the different cards. For example, if you hit the PTO switch on the B panel, it's going to take you immediately to a screen for PTO where you can cycle through your different speed selections. You can also do custom speed selections, and then you can cycle through the different screens, depending on what's been specced out on the vehicle using these controls here. So you've also got volume up, down. This also, this is also what selects incremental speeds for PTO, things like that.

On the right hand side, you've got phone control, cruise, speed settings, and then you've got some lighting controls as well. So the whole idea here is that we're taking a lot of these sort of fundamental operator controls, taking them off the dash, putting them in reach for the operator so that it's hands on the wheel eyes on the road. Just to increase safety. Big change too, in terms of the flexibility, we mentioned the QuickFit upfit system, which has the programmable electrical modules. Those are located behind me on the back wall here. And this is the bracket that those connectors would normally mount to. With that system, in the M2 SD Plus, on the B panel, theoretically you could configure this for 32 programmable and vehicle level switches. So you'd have sort of your vehicle functions and programmable switches. You can get eight packs of four on the B panel.

Additionally, if you opt not to get a CB or overhead radio, you can get panels in every one of these compartments and you can get another 24 switches as well overhead. So an abundance of optional switch content above and below, just depending on quantity and preference. Notice that the dash materials are just improved. The fit and finish is really improved. You notice that mostly on the drive. We've got this great phone holder up here on the top of the dash, as well as a tray. You can configure this for a RAM Mount to install optional equipment like screens and other control panels. This one has also the optional RAM Mount up in the top of the cab here.

This one doesn't have Sideguard Assist, but you can kind of see the cutout here in the A-pillar on the right hand side, that if this did have Sideguard Assist, basically a light would come on to alert you to a pedestrian, an object or a vehicle in your blind spot on the right hand side. And if you attempt to lane change or make a turn in that direction, you go from amber to red and you get an audible alert too. So it's just increasing the awareness for the operator of what your surroundings are like.

Jason Cannon
Freightliner made very clear that when they went into this redesign process with the SD Plus and the M2 Plus that they were trying to bridge the gap between light-duty pickup and heavy commercial truck. And they've really done that. And it's really in the small things, the way the driver's seat travels a little bit further under the wheel, the infinitely telescopic wheel, it really does feel like you can step right out of a passenger vehicle, a light-duty pickup, and hop right into a commercial truck. Quite frankly, if it's more comfortable to drive, it's just safer. The technology on this truck is really uncommon in the medium-duty space. It's going to be more increasingly common, but right now you just don't see a lot of it. So anything that you can do to make it easier to drive, it's safer to drive. I think you've sort of hit a home run and Freightliner's certainly done that with the reinvention, if you want to call it that, of its SD Plus and its M2 Plus.